Starting today, February 1, parking fines will increase in Denver. Last month, the city doubled parking meter rates.
Most fines will increase by $10, except for a few aimed at improving safety and mobility, according to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure. The only fine not increasing is for a street sweeping violation, which will remain at $50. That fine increased from $25 in 2011, according to DOTI marketing and communications specialist Vanessa Lacayo, and the last time the city considered other parking fines was in 2007.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen significant growth which has resulted in an increased demand for parking,” says Lacayo, “and the new parking fee schedule is intended to incentivize drivers to park legally when they have need a place and not to block areas intended for walking, cycling and the disabled.
Violations seeing larger increases include those for parking or blocking a bike line, parking or blocking a sidewalk, and parking or blocking a crosswalk – all of which will increase by $40 , going from $25 to $65. The fine for illegal parking in an accessible space, which will increase from $150 to $350, and the fine for illegally parking large vehicles in a neighborhood, which will increase from $25 to $250, will also see large increases.
According to DOTI, more tractor-trailers and commercial trucks are using residential streets for parking; the fines are designed to help reclaim curbside space in neighborhoods.
Overall, DOTI estimates the fine changes will generate an additional $6.4 million for the city, which will be placed in a mobility and safety improvement fund.
“It’s good that it doesn’t just go into the general fund,” says Rob Toftness, a member of the Denver Bicycle Lobby, a grassroots organization that promotes alternative transportation. He hopes the funds will be used to redesign Denver streets to make them safer, as well as to replace speed limit signs now that the city has modified speed limits on residential streets from 25 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour.
Many intersections, sidewalks and bike lanes also need improvements, he says, and cost has limited progress on these projects.. With protected cycle paths, which place physical barriers between cars and those using the bike lane, Toftness says narrowing streets helps reduce vehicle speeds and creates more aware drivers, leading to fewer accidents.
“Maybe you add a bus lane, or you add a protected bike lane that narrows the street and creates a bit of visual friction for the driver and signals to them that, ‘Hey, this is a slower street and you need to be more careful,” notes Toftness.
He suggests that such modifications could help the city with its Vision Zero Campaign, whose goal is zero traffic-related deaths or injuries by 2030. But the program has gotten off to a slow start since its introduction in 2016. There were 84 traffic-related deaths in 2021, and there are already had three in 2022.
Additional revenue from parking meters will also go towards improving safety and mobility, with 40% earmarked for transit projects, 20% for sidewalks, 20% for new cycling infrastructure and 20% for Vision Zero.
“I’m really happy to see the city focus on that,” Toftness said. “If we make it so people don’t just use the parking lot and bike lanes as parking, it makes it easier for others to get around by bike, on foot – even people using mobility devices will use the bike path. I know a lot of people will be angry and think it’s a money grab. I see this as a way to get better designs in the future.